Mandarin Aerated Chocolate
Specialty Equipment: water bath, vacuum machine, thermometer, moulds
Specialty Ingredients: mandarin essential oil, cacao butter, yellow pectin, tartaric acid, glucose
Dish as in The Fat Duck:
Mandarin Aerated Chocolate attempt #1 ended in tears. It’s the only recipe I had to make a second time (although I have to refrain myself from redoing the first half of the posts), to look back without any regrets. I also just wanted chocolate to work with me for once in my life. No rest for the chocolate fuck-ups.
I reread the comments on some of my posts and decided to ditch the water bath altogether. Instead I opted for an au-bain marie and, thanks to a very handy tip from Mitchell, a hair dryer as weapons of choice. To melt all the crystals I heated the chocolate to 54˚C, as instructed in the book (where they use a water bath).
When it reached this temperature I seeded the chocolate and let it cool to 28˚C, while whisking regularly to even out the temperature across the board.
I then raised the temperature to 32˚C with a hair dryer. The advantage of a hair dryer is a controlled heat source and the bowl itself won’t heat up, eliminating any nasty residual heat. I must say it worked perfectly. Hair dryer, thumbs up.
Nothing has changed in the pastry molds department, so I scraped different ‘molds’ together from a range of kitchen utensils: egg cups, measuring cups and more. The egg holders were by far best suited for the job.
With the first temper I covered the molds and let them sit for a while (see previous attempt for detailed descriptions). The chocolate drippings, with a nice sheen and a good snap, gave an indication the tempering worked much better this time around.
I skipped the whipping canister step. It is used to aerate the chocolate before pulling a vacuum, to speed up the process, resulting in a better texture. I can say it is necessary to use a whipping canister if you want to end up with a Fat Duck certified chocolate, but if you can live with smaller bubbles, you can also just fill the coated moulds and pull a vacuum. I wouldn’t fill them three-quarters full when you don’t use a whipping canister (I did and think shouldn’t have), cause the chocolate is far more dense and needs to rise a lot more to give it an aerated texture. So, maybe halfway and pull a vacuum until the chocolate reaches the top of the mold.
The chocolates released themselves easily from the molds with no need to chill them to help with the unmolding. This is an example of the texture from a chocolate made in a small measuring cup.
Egg holders give a nice, professional looking chocolate.
Finally, it worked. The chocolate had a nice sheen and a good snap and the inside was bubbly. I didn’t make the mandarin jelly, because I wasn’t sure the chocolate would turn out ok, but did ad the mandarin essential oil, so I still had some of the mandarin flavor. In all a very fun and tasty petit four. Together with the Coconut Baccy it is my favorite of the smaller sweet dishes of this book and highly recommended. You can make the aerated chocolate without a vacuum machine (see this video). Equipment shouldn’t hold you back.
Chocolate, you can release me and let me sleep in peace.